A passenger boarding a Southwest Airlines flight in Dallas, Texas, assaulted an airline employee on Saturday, sending her to the hospital.
“Southwest Airlines maintains a zero-tolerance policy regarding any type of harassment or assault and fully support our employee as we cooperate with local authorities regarding this unacceptable incident,” the airline told CNN, which reported on the incident.
The employee, described as a female operations agent, was “verbally and physically” assaulted by a female passenger, and was taken to a Dallas-area hospital before later being released to rest and recover at home.
The assailant is now reportedly in police custody. Southwest has not disclosed the exact circumstances of the attack, which took place at Love Field Airport, as passengers boarded a flight bound for New York City’s La Guardia airport.
Tensions have been running high in airports since the start of the pandemic over mask mandates.
Since the beginning of 2021 alone, there have been more than 5,000 unruly passenger incidents, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, which has handed out nearly $250,000 in fines.
In May, a Southwest passenger allegedly punched a flight attendant and was find more than $26,000. In October, meanwhile, a Southwest pilot was cited for alleged assault and battery during an argument with a flight attendant about masks at a hotel bar in California. In August, the Transportation Security Administration extended the federal mandate that air travel passengers wear face masks on flights, buses, and trains until January 2022. The union of Southwest’s flight attendants has pushed to keep mask mandates, while the air carrier has warned that the delta variant may be depressing travel bookings.